Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Deccan Chargers keep IPL semi-final hopes alive

ust when the Deccan Chargers’ chances of securing a semi-final berth in IPL-3 seemed all but extinguished, three consecutive victories have revived their top-four chances.

When Adam Gilchrist’s team slumped to their fifth straight loss in a nail-biting finish against the Rajasthan Royals on April 5th their prospects of backing up last year’s IPL victory with another in 2010 appeared remote.

After that two-run defeat, Deccan were languishing in seventh place in the IPL points table, with only the hapless Kings XI Punjab below them. Then came the revival.

First came a seven-wicket win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore away from home; that was followed a six-wicket win over the Chennai Super Kings at Nagpur two days later; and for the hat-trick they defeated Bangalore by 13 runs in the return match yesterday.

Suddenly, Deccan had gone from cellar dwellers to fifth place on the points table and one of four teams to have recorded six wins for the IPL, shaded out of a semi-final place only on percentage.

Indeed, while it’s probably safe to pencil top-of-the-table team the Mumbai Indians (eight wins and three losses) in for a top-four finish and Punjab (four wins and eight losses) in as a bottom-four finisher, you could throw a blanket over the remaining six teams, who are all in a tight race for the semis.

There must have been some nervous moments in the Deccan camp against Bangalore yesterday though as Bangalore’s Dale Steyn, the world’s No. 1 ranked Test bowler, steamed in on his hat-trick ball in just the first over of their innings, having dismissed both Gilchrist and Tirumalasetti Suman for ducks.

Rohit Sharma defended that delivery safely away to mid-on and went on to steady the ship for his team with 51 valuable runs from 46 balls. That innings, combined with Monish Mishra’s 41 from 30 deliveries, helped Deccan to a modest total of 151-6.

Bangalore started their run-chase in a similar fashion to Deccan’s innings – losing Manish Pandey for a diamond duck. But that was just the start of their problems.

Jacques Kallis (27), Rahul Dravid (49) and Ravi Uthappa (34) all offered some resistance to the Deccan bowlers, but with no other batsman making more than four they received little support from their teammates.

The knock-out blow for Bangalore came in the first ball of the 19th over, when Harmeet Singh rattled Uthappa’s stumps with Anil Kumble’s team requiring just 18 more runs for victory. The medium-pacer made it two wickets from two balls when he trapped Dale Steyn in front.

Bangalore added just four more runs for the match, before they were all out for 138, 14 runs short of the target.

And with that, Deccan – with matches against Punjab and the Delhi Daredevils to follow – were firmly back in the race for the semi-finals in 2010, and perhaps a second straight series victory in the IPL.

“The last three games we have got better and better and better,” Gilchrist said post-match yesterday. “There’s no other option, we have just got to keep winning.”

It’s the same story for five other teams too.

1 comment:

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